An off-duty officer in Washington state died after first being stabbed by a robbery suspect who showed up at his home while evading police, and then being mistakenly shot by a sheriff’s deputy who responded to the scene.
Vancouver police officer Donald Sahota, 52, collapsed on his porch as he was shot Saturday night, authorities said.
The shooting occurred as police tried to catch a man wanted for robbing a gas station at gunpoint. The suspect fled the gas station in Vancouver, near Portland, Oregon, with several hundred dollars, authorities said. He left in a stolen Mercedes and eluded police on a busy highway.
Officers stopped his vehicle with spike strips, but he ran off and ended up about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the gas station, at the officer's home in the city of Battle Ground, Washington.
The suspect pounded on the door and said he'd been in a car crash and needed help. Nothing in an account released by investigators late Sunday suggested the officer and suspect knew each other.
Sahota's wife called 911 and realized that the man at her door matched the description of a robbery suspect, authorities said. She remained on the phone and told dispatchers that her husband, an armed, off-duty police officer, was headed outside to confront the man and detain him for law enforcement.
The suspect began fighting with Sahota in the driveway, stabbing him repeatedly. He then broke free and forced his way into Sahota's house, knocking down Sahota's wife with the door, according to a police account contained in court documents filed Monday.
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Sahota had lost hold of his gun during the struggle but regained it and chased after the suspect just as a deputy arrived and shot the off-duty officer with a rifle.
Sahota collapsed on his front porch. Responding officers didn't realize he was the homeowner until the suspect emerged from the front door with his hands up. He had thrust his knife into a couch cushion inside, the documents said.
Sahota's wife was treated at a hospital after being struck in the head by the door.
The suspect, identified as Julio Cesar Segura, 20, appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court after being arrested for investigation of attempted first-degree murder, robbery and other charges. Judge John Fairgrieve set bail at $5 million, saying it was “hard to think of a more dangerous series of acts,” The Columbian newspaper reported.
The identity of the deputy who fired the shots was not expected to be released until late this week. He has been placed on “critical incident leave,” said Troy Brightbill, chief criminal deputy of the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office and commander of the Lower Columbia Major Crimes Team.
Sahota joined the department in April 2014 after stints with the Gresham and Port of Portland police departments in Oregon.
“My heart goes out to Officer Sahota’s family and friends and those of us in his VPD family as well,” Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain said in a statement. “His death is a tragic loss, and he will be deeply missed by many.”
In Vancouver, Sahota's assignments included patrol, being an armorer and most recently the training unit. He also leaves behind two children, Vancouver police said.